Since the Supreme Court’s finding that playing background music in Starbucks stores is a copyright infringement, three music copyright associations – the Korea Music Copyright Association (KOMCA), the Federation of Korean Music Performers (FKMP), and the Recording Industry Association of Korea (RIAK) – have started claiming royalties from large coffee franchises as well as small stores.
However, the practice is in violation of the Copyright Act. Article 29 (2) of the Copyright Act permits playing “commercial records” for the general public if nothing in return is received from the audience. Only certain types of stores (e.g. large stores with the store area of more than 3,000 square meters) are required to pay royalties to play commercial records. “Commercial records” should include not only CDs but also downloaded music files or music streaming. In the Starbucks case, the Supreme Court found, however, that they do not. Anyway, the decision should not be used to accuse playing CDs to the customers for copyright infringement. The law on small stores playing CDs for ambiance was not changed by the Starbucks decision.
What is more, the associations have no legal ground for collecting the royalties. The Collection Rule of KOMCA only provides for royalties on live musical performances in restaurants, coffee shops, cafes, etc., which are not protected by the provision on commercial records.
Open Net demands the Ministry of Culture to initiate investigation on the unjustified practice of the associations and impose sanctions accordingly. Please report to Open Net (http://opennet.or.kr/report-music-copyright) if you have suffered from the practice, and help us to find appropriate legal remedies for your damage.
Read Korea original here.